A new Australian study offers valuable insights into the common but potentially disabling sport-related condition known colloquially as ‘stitch’ (‘Epidemiology of exercise-related transient abdominal pain at the Sydney City to Surf community run’, J Sci Med Sport 2005; 8:2:152-162).
In a previous study – the largest published on the subject – the researchers found that 60% of runners had experienced exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP) while running within the past year, but this was a retrospective study based on recall.
The aim of the current study was to investigate the acute experience of ETAP in a single running event to develop a better understanding of its prevalence and characteristics and assess the influence of personal characteristics and pre-event nutrition on its development.
A detailed questionnaire about ETAP was completed by 848 participants (76% runners and 24% walkers) at the conclusion of the 14k City to Surf event – Australia’s largest community run which attracts some 50,000 participants every August, ranging from children to elite athletes.
The main findings were:
According to the researchers, the findings of this study suggest that stitch is a single condition, common in its manifestation to most sufferers and therefore probably also common in its cause. What that cause is remains unknown.
Isabel Walker is the editor of Peak Performance